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Psychedelic Prayers

And Other Meditations (Second Edition)
Paperback Book
March, 1997
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Banyen's Description: 

I still have my 1966 Poet’s Press edition of Psychedelic Prayers, in which each section was printed in a different, carefully chosen colour of ink. This is the first new edition of this book in 25 years, with a new introduction by Ralph Metzner, Leary’s Harvard colleague who co-wrote The Psychedelic Experience and who was at his side during the writing of this book.

Written while Timothy Leary was visiting India in 1965 and finished the following year at his celebrated commune in Millbrook, New York, Psychedelic Prayers is an adaptation of Book 1 of the Tao Te Ching. Leary said he was drawn to the “psychedelic” quality of the ancient work and believed it could serve as a guide to transcendental experiences. “My objective,” he later wrote, “was to find this seed idea in each sutra and rewrite it in the lingua franca of psychedelia.” By poetic—and experiential—standards, he succeeded in his aim: Psychedelic Prayers occupies a unique place in 1960s literature and is one of Leary’s most beloved books. The glitter of these meditations, by the way, does not require ingestion to be appreciated. Many of them stand well on their own as deeply felt versions of The Tao, and as specific guided meditations in themselves.

The fifty-six hymns translated were divided into six groups, according to the flow of an inner journey: Preparatory Prayers; Prayers Invoking Pure Energy Flow; Prayers Invoking Cellular Consciousness; Prayers Invoking Sensory Experiences Registered by the External Sense Organs; Prayers Invoking Sensory Experiences Registered by the Internal Sense Organs; and Re-Imprinting Prayers.

There are moments in every psychedelic session when there comes that need to communicate—at the highest and best level you are capable of.

This need has been known and sensed for thousands of years. All prayers are originally psychedelic communications with higher freer energies—tuning yourself in to the billion-year-old energy dance.

Conventional prayers, for the most part, have degenerated into game rituals. Slogans. Meaningless verbalizations. Appeals for game help.

But that crucial non-game terror-reverence awefull moment comes...

There comes that time when the ecstatic cry is called for.

At that time, you must be ready to pray.

To go beyond yourself. To contact energy beyond your game.

At that time you must be ready to pray.

When you have lost the need to pray...

You are a dead man in a world of dead symbols.

Pray for life.

Pray for life.

                            —Timothy Leary

        Kumaon Hills, Almora, India, 1965

                    Millbrook, New York, 1966

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